May Newsletter – 24.05.2021
- China Hones Control Over Manganese, a Rising Star in Battery Metals
- Clean energy plan requires a US mining renaissance
- Illegal Mining in Colombia Hurts Chinese Gold Miner
- USA Rare Earth to take 80% stake in Round Top project in Texas
- Greenland’s new mining minister backs Bluejay project
- BHP enters $17 million farm-in deal for Elliot copper project
- Chile’s Codelco says 40% of its copper output at risk if glacier bill passes -media
- G7 agrees to stop international funding for coal
China Hones Control Over Manganese, a Rising Star in Battery Metals
Chinese firms join a cartel-like group to tighten output in key products, spurring prices and rival projects world-wide.
A manganese mine in Ivory Coast in 2013 that was operated by China National Geological & Mining Corp. While manganese ore is relatively abundant around the world, it is almost solely refined in China.
China is tightening its grip on the global supply of processed manganese, rattling a range of companies world-wide that depend on the versatile metal—including the planet’s biggest electric-vehicle makers.
China produces more than 90% of the world’s manganese products, ranging from steel-strengthening additives to battery-grade compounds. Since October, dozens of Chinese manganese processors accounting for most of global capacity have joined a state-backed campaign to establish a “manganese innovation alliance,” setting out in planning documents goals and moves that others in the industry say are akin to a production cartel. They include centralizing control over supply of key products, coordinating prices, stockpiling and networks for mutual financial assistance.
The squeeze sent prices soaring in metal markets world-wide, snagging steelmakers and sharpening concern among car makers. China’s metal industries already dominate the global processing of most raw materials for rechargeable batteries, including cobalt and nickel. Three-quarters of the world’s lithium-ion batteries and half of its electric vehicles are made in China.
Clean energy plan requires a US mining renaissance
President Joe Biden is making a big push for his American Jobs Plan. As he explained in his recent address to Congress, a large-scale U.S. transition to renewable energy could create millions of good-paying jobs, particularly if “Made in America.” That would be a great help for domestic manufacturers. But there’s a catch — a potential shortage of the raw materials needed to manufacture these advanced technologies.
A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) makes clear that the United States will need to drastically increase its supply of critical minerals in order to manufacture wind turbines, solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, electric vehicles (EVs) and the like. As the agency explains, an insufficient supply of raw minerals could jeopardize the chances of manufacturing these technologies in the U.S. — or deploying them globally to effectively address climate concerns.
According to the agency, the production of lithium-ion batteries alone could drive up the global demand for lithium by more than 40 times through 2040. Supplies of other key minerals — including graphite, cobalt and nickel — would need to increase by at least 20 times as well.
Illegal Mining in Colombia Hurts Chinese Gold Miner
A large Chinese mining company says illegal operations at its gold mine in Colombia are seriously harming its production.
Zijin Mining Group paid $1 billion for the Buritica gold mine in 2019. The mine is near the Colombian community of Buritica in the Andes Mountains.
Zijin knew there were security risks in the area when it bought the mine. But local government officials and police tell Reuters that illegal mining activities there have increased.
They say there are now thousands of illegal miners working in difficult, sometimes-deadly conditions around the Buritica mine. Officials say the illegal miners work in many tunnels and at more than 150 secret processing centers in the area.
Police say the tunnels are controlled by the Clan del Golfo criminal group, known locally as “The Ten.” The name comes from the 10 percent that members take from the illegal miners’ production. The group buys the remaining illegal production. It pays miners by permitting them to keep some gold or giving them money or liquid mercury.
In addition to harming legal mining operations, the illegal activities present security threats to the nearby community. Local leaders fear violence related to criminal activity and mercury poisoning of natural water supplies. Mercury is used by the miners to separate gold from dirt.
USA Rare Earth to take 80% stake in Round Top project in Texas
USA Rare Earth, which has ambitious plans to develop a domestic supply chain has fully funded its $10 million commitment to earn its 70% interest in the Round Top heavy rare earths and lithium project in Texas, and exercised its option to acquire an additional 10%.
Round Top Mountain Development LLC has been formed to hold the joint venture interests of joint venture partner Texas Mineral Resources (TMRC) and USA Rare Earth. TMRC will own a 20% interest in Round Top Mountain Development LLC.
Investors are growing more interested in exposure to rare earths – 17 minerals used in military applications, ceramics, wind turbines, electric cars and medical equipment. China is the world’s largest producer and has threatened to stop exporting these minerals to the United States.
Last year, the Canadian and U.S Governments reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the North American supply chain for critical minerals – essential to both countries’ national security and economic growth. Reviving domestic rare earths production has become a priority in Washington as relations with China have grown more frayed, and with U.S. lawmakers leery of relying on a rival for critical defense components.
Greenland’s new mining minister backs Bluejay project
The Dundas ilmenite project is Bluejay’s flagship asset
Explorer and developer Bluejay Mining (LON: JAY) said on Friday it had a “positive” meeting with Greenland’s newly appointed mining minister, which has eased worries about the position of the left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit, which won the country’s election in April.
Greenland’s main opposition party, which opposes the now halted Kvanefjeld rare earths project in the country’s south, secured 37% of the votes last month.
The victory of the Indigenous party with a strong environmental focus, led to concerns about the future of the mining sector in the country.
Bluejay said that Housing, Infrastructure, Mineral Resources and Gender Equality Minister Naaja Nathanielsen confirmed the new government’s support for the sector.
The authority is also said to have confirmed Greenland’s Minerals Strategy 2020 – 2024, which provides a framework for the development of the country’s mineral resources.
The ruling party has taken an anti-radioactive-element stance, but has publicly stated that it is pro-mining.
BHP enters $17 million farm-in deal for Elliot copper project
Following successful completion of a jointly designed validation program, BHP has exercised its option to enter a farm-in and joint venture agreement with Australia’s Encounter Resources covering the Elliott copper project in the Northern Territory.
The farm-in and JV deal follows last September’s option agreement between the companies, pursuant to which BHP may earn up to a 75% interest in the project by spending up to A$22 million ($17 million) over 10 years.
According to Encounter, the Elliott project represents a “compelling exploration opportunity” in the vastly underexplored Greater McArthur Superbasin that contains the key ingredients for the formation of large sedimentary copper deposits.
“Copper sourced from sedimentary-hosted deposits is one of the fastest growing sources of high-grade copper in the world. Encounter controls an extensive first-mover portfolio of copper projects in the Greater McArthur Superbasin in the NT,” Encounter managing director Will Robinson said in a statement on Friday.
Chile’s Codelco says 40% of its copper output at risk if glacier bill passes -media
Chile’s state-run Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, said in a letter to lawmakers this week that as much as 40% of its copper output is at risk if a bill that limits mine operations near glaciers advances, according to a report in local daily El Mercurio.
The letter, sent by Codelco to the Chilean Senate´s Mining and Energy committee, notes that three of its major mine operations – Andina, El Teniente and Salvador – would be impacted by the “absolute prohibitions” currently under consideration in the bill.
“The new protections proposed in the project would overlap with current and future activities in Andina, El Teniente and Salvador,” Codelco executives warned in the letter to lawmakers, according to the El Mercurio report.
The three mines together constitute nearly 40% of the sprawling miner´s production, government statistics show.
G7 agrees to stop international funding for coal
G7 countries on Friday agreed to stop all new financing of international coal projects by the end of the year in an effort to meet global climate change targets.
Why it matters: “Coal mining has come under pressure this week after the International Energy Agency said that no new coal mines should be needed if the world is to cut emissions to net zero by 2050,” the Financial Times noted.
“The G7 countries [on Friday] also pledged to make ‘accelerated efforts’ to limit global warming to 1.5C [2.7 degrees Fahrenheit] relative to pre-industrial times — a major shift from previous statements that focused on limiting warming to 2C, a slightly easier target,” FT added.
The G7 includes the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom.
What they’re saying: “Recognising that coal power generation is the single biggest cause of global temperature increases, we commit now to rapidly scale-up technologies and policies that further accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity,” the G7 environment and climate ministers, including U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry, said Friday.
“Consistent with this overall approach and recognising that continued global investment in unabated coal power generation is incompatible with keeping 1.5°C within reach, we stress that international investments in unabated coal must stop now,” the communique added.
“[W]e will phase out new direct government support for carbon intensive international fossil fuel energy, except in limited circumstances at the discretion of each country, in a manner that is consistent with an ambitious, clearly defined pathway towards climate neutrality in order to keep 1.5°C within reach…”
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